Rapid Weight Loss Is Not Associated With Competitive Success in Elite Youth Olympic-Style Boxers in Europe

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To examine the influence of rapid weight loss (RWL) on competitive success in elite youth Olympic-style boxers. In addition, this study examined the practice and prevalence of weight reduction, weight-management protocols, and related symptoms in youth boxers from 12 European countries (N = 83, all males, mean [SD] age 17.1 [0.9] y). Methods: The data were collected using an extensive questionnaire on weight cutting and its associated protocols and symptoms prior to highest-level continental championships. Competition results were obtained at follow-up using a dichotomous variable: medal winning vs nonwinning at the European Championships. Results: Binary logistic regression analysis indicated that “boxing experience” was significantly related to the criterion competitive outcome (odds ratio = 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–1.66; Nagelkerke R2 = .11), with a higher likelihood of competitive success for more-experienced boxers. Of all the youth boxers, only 25% were included in the RWL group, irrespective of their weight-class stratification. More than 45% of all the youth boxers self-reported the simultaneous combination of different weight-cutting methods that are known to be serious health hazards. Finally, 33% of the boxers experienced muscle weakness as a consequence of RWL. Conclusions: Our study provided evidence of pathogenic weight-management protocols that are widely adopted by youth boxers, and yet the present outcomes showed that RWL did not translate into competitive success in these elite Olympic-style boxers in Europe. Therefore, the authors suggest a mandatory educational program that should simultaneously target all the mentioned issues including both health- and performance-threatening consequences.

The authors are with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, Split, Croatia. Zubac is also with the Inst for Kinesiology Research, Science and Research Center Koper, Koper, Slovenia.

Zubac (damir.zubac@kifst.hr) is corresponding author.

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